Council Members

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state commission within the Executive Branch of state government. It was established in 1967 to serve as the official agency to expand and grow the state's arts and culture.

During his tenure as president of National Education Association Rhode Island, Larry Purtill has held numerous positions of leadership on statewide boards and commissions, in both the labor and education communities. He currently is secretary treasurer of the Institute for Labor Studies and Research and is on the board of directors of the Working Rhode Island coalition and the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Purtill is a member of the Executive Committee Rhode Island AFL-CIO. He taught history in Exeter-West Greenwich for twenty-two years prior to taking office in 1999.

David Kim is an artist, scientist and educator with a deep commitment to making the arts more inclusive and accessible to local communities. His creative practice centers on cultivating digital, biological and social systems for catharsis and community empowerment and has been featured in Wired, Smithsonian, The Providence Journal, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Art in America and the 2013 Venice Biennale. Kim currently serves on the boards of Providence-based nonprofit arts organizations Queer.Archive.Work [] and The Steel Yard. Formerly a cancer and genetics research biochemist, Kim returned to school for Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts at University of California, San Diego, and the Digital+Media MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 2014, he launched RISD's Co-Works Research Lab where he continues to serve as director and supports experimentation with emerging technologies. Kim is RISD Sculpture faculty and has also taught at institutions including Brown University, Brandeis University and the School of Visual Arts NYC.

Mary K Talbot joins the council for her second tenure as a member and secretary. She is an accomplished media and marketing professional who is experienced in community relations, marketing communications, media relations, public affairs, and crisis communications in corporate, government and nonprofit settings. Talbot has served on numerous boards and commissions, including her first board service to RISCA from 2002-2011. She has a Masters in Corporate Public Relations, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Evanston, IL, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Studio Art from Providence College.

Dominique Alfandre has been involved in arts management since college, where she managed the Radcliffe Choral Society, produced plays and inhaled a seminar in arts management taught by Tom Wolfe. On graduation, she moved to New York City, becoming Assistant Manager for Nikolais Dance Theatre and then a press representative at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She moved to Newport with her husband Thomas Palmer in 1982, just at the time that Miki Ohlsen and a group of dancers were forming the Island Moving Company. First as a Board member and later as a paid manager, Dominique worked with the ballet company, recently retiring as Executive Director. Meanwhile, she became active in the arts community in Rhode Island, and was especially interested in the need for a performing arts space for Newport. In that time, she helped found the RI Dance Consortium; RI Citizens for the Arts; and the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County, which she chaired for eight years. She has worked as a consultant with Janice Kissinger at Non-Profit Advisory Services and has offered counsel to many fledgling arts organizations. She has served on the Boards of Island Arts, RI Citizens for the Arts and the Newport Performing Arts Center. She currently serves on the Boards of the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Arts & Cultural Alliance and the RI State Council on the Arts. Additionally, she is co-Chair of Island Moving Company’s Choreographing Our Future capital campaign and chairs the newly formed Board of the Newport String Project. Dominique was a 2005 RI Foundation Fellow and received the Arts & Business Council’s Arts Advocate Award in 2005. In 2010, she was recognized for her contribution to the arts community with the inaugural annual “Dominique Award” by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County.

Suzanne Augenstein, Providence, has worked in federal and state government, for a Fortune 500 company and previously served on the Council in the early 2000s. She recently retired from the Office of the Governor, where she worked as the Director of Executive Operations. She is currently a contractor for the Rhode Island Department of Housing, under Secretary Stefan Pryor. Her other previous roles included service with R.I. Secretary of Commerce, R.I. Supreme Court and U.S. Congressman James Langevin. She holds an undergraduate degree in Arts Management and a graduate degree in Public Administration. Augenstein’s community service includes Tockwotton on the Waterfront, R.I. Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, Chief Justice Appointment, Providence Performing Arts Center - Scholarship Committee, Arts and Business Council of R.I. (Formerly Business Volunteers for the Arts, R.I.) and Rhode Island College Alumni Association Board Member.

Marisa Angell Brown is the Associate Director of the Center for Complexity at Rhode Island School of Design. She is a historian, educator and curator whose work focuses on the intersections between art, design, community and justice, with a special interest in preservation, public memory, public art and spatial practice. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, Places Journal, Perspecta, Manual, Buildings and Landscapes, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her curatorial projects have been featured in Metropolis, Architectural Record, Associated Press, the Providence Journal and the Public’s Radio. Brown teaches college-credit courses at the women’s prison in Rhode Island with College Unbound and teaches a graduate seminar at the Rhode Island School of Design, titled Art and Design as Community Practice.  Before joining the Center for Complexity, she was an Assistant Director at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University, where she taught graduate seminars in preservation, public humanities and directed community partnerships, public programs and research initiatives on placekeeping, public art, museum practice, and public history.  

Brown received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from Yale University, a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s from Princeton University.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and is on the board of the Rhode Island State House Restoration Society.  She is Korean American and grew up in Dubai and New York City.  She lives in Fox Point, Providence with her spouse, two teen-aged children and their beloved family dog, Molly.


bio to come.

Jennifer Fonseca serves as the Director of Marketing and Client Services at Site Specific, a design-build construction company headquartered in Providence. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in photography from the University of Notre Dame. Studying art and design, took Jennifer to the west coast of France, where she spent a summer living and working with other artists through a Rhode Island School of Design Program. Jennifer also holds a Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Notre Dame and has experience in public and private art education. She pursues drawing, photography, and printmaking in her free time and also enjoys reading, gardening, and traveling with her husband and young daughters. Jennifer is also a member of the Providence Art Club.

Bethany Lardaro lives in Hopkinton and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Communications from Rhode Island College. She has worked in banking since 2004 and started with her current employer, Washington Trust, in 2009. Participating and giving back to the community has been a lifelong value held by Lardaro. Joining Washington Trust, known for its culture of service; both to customers and to the communities it serves, is a decision that she is proud of. Lardaro started her career as a branch manager and now works as a Private Client Advisor specializing in wealth planning. Through her tenure, she has participated in programs to promote financial literacy such as understanding credit, retirement planning seminars and succession planning for business owners.  She has worked with people at all phases of their financial journey. Lardaro was drawn to the RISCA council because she has deep respect and admiration for those who create. She believes that art feeds the soul and enhances our lives in every way. Community service has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Lardaro earned her Gold Award through Girl Scouts, which is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and most recently worked on the Camp Hoffman Centennial Committee. She has served as a mentor for an elementary aged child for three years through an organization called South Kingstown CARES and served on its board. She also served on the board of directors for the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce for thirteen years. She has been the co-chair of the Rhode Island Calamari Festival since its inception in 2014. 

Bio to come

Silvermoon Mars LaRose, a member of the Narragansett Tribe, is the Assistant Director of the Tomaquag Museum. She assists the Executive Director with managing the museum’s collections and archives, cultural education and the Indigenous Empowerment projects. Silvermoon has worked in tribal communities for over twenty years, serving in the areas of health and human services and education. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to travel extensively, learning from Indigenous communities throughout the United States. Silvermoon is also a member of the Rhode Island Foundation’s inaugural cohort of the Equity Leadership Initiative. As a public servant, Silvermoon serves as the Secretary for the Charlestown Conservation Commission. As an artist and educator, she hopes to foster Indigenous empowerment through education, community building, and the sharing of cultural knowledge and traditional arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a minor in Justice Law and Society from the University of Rhode Island, and a partially completed Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University.

Kara Kelly Milner is a passionate education advocate committed to local, state, and national equity and advancement efforts. She is a member of the Teach for America – Rhode Island Advisory Board and was a founding Advisory Board member for the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, serving as RI-CAN’s board chairperson in 2016. In her home community, Kara helped found the Bristol-Warren Education Foundation, serving as Board Chairperson for the organization’s first four years. She was a Trustee of the Moses Brown School from 2014-2022. 

Kara holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from the University of Virginia. She and her husband David Milner live in Bristol with their three children.

Bio to come